Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Be Happy

Research shows those who say they would allow ‘many’ immigrants to enter are happier than those who want none to enter. British people who oppose further immigration to the UK are less happy than those who welcome it, and politicians are part of the reason for this. Dr David Bartram, lecturer at the University of Leicester who carried out the research.

Those who say they would allow “many” immigrants to enter are around eight per cent happier than those who want none to enter, according to a study, prompting researchers to conclude that anti-immigrant discourse in politics is “contributing to undermining the subjective well-being of the natives themselves”.

Speaking at the British Sociological Association’s annual conference in Manchester, Dr Bartram said: “For the most part, immigration is not a threat to the employment or wages of natives. Economic research on that topic finds that for the economy as a whole, immigration enhances the economic situation of natives – it expands job opportunities and doesn’t undermine wages. Instead it’s the beliefs themselves that people have about immigrants, the way people think about immigrants – they’re not ‘part of us’ – that makes them unhappy about immigrants, and indeed perhaps less happy in general. 

Dr Bartram added that political messages play a key role in promoting such discourse among the population, and that it was “damaging” those who were influenced by it.

Anti-immigrant discourses, political messages that highlight and bemoan how different immigrants are, contribute to undermining the subjective well-being of the natives themselves,” he added. “We would likely see a significant benefit if politicians stopped talking about immigration and immigrants in the way many of them currently do. The current discourse is damaging to natives, and recognition of this idea could amount to reason for reflection. Perhaps this research could persuade politicians to reconsider the way they think and speak about immigrants, but I’m not going to hold my breath.”
Dr Bartram continued “ It might seem that I’m telling a very pessimistic story about human nature – the notion that there’s a deeply rooted tendency to be suspicious of something that seems unfamiliar and thus a corresponding tendency to distrust and dislike foreigners.  But in fact we have plenty of evidence indicating that this way of engaging with foreigners can be unlearned – or at least that a new way of thinking about foreigners can be taught to the next generation. People in the youngest age group are twice as likely as those in the oldest group to say they want to allow this sort of immigration."

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